When the King of Thailand Jammed with the Baptists

In the early days of Protestant mission work in Thailand, it was common for missionaries to meet Thai royalty, who often kept themselves apprised of the missionaries’ work.  As the country changed and grew, and the 20th century progressed, such relations became less common. 

In the early 1960s, however, a visiting Southern Baptist choir had a unique audience with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, illustrating the goodness of God’s provision as well as the kind generosity His Majesty and his love of music. Ron Hill, a longtime missionary to Thailand who was involved in early Southern Baptist work in that country relates the story as follows.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama 9) and King Vajiralongkorn (Rama 10),  September 4, 1964

Mary Cort's Strange Christmas in Siam, 1875

 Phetchaburi, Thailand

MISSIONARY LIFE IN SIAM

by Mary L. Cort

Petchaburi, Siam,

Jan 4. 1875

 

A Tropical Climate.

The 25th of December was the strangest Christmas I ever spent in my life. There was no Wintry weather outside, no cold or snow, but sunshine, birds, and flowers. The natives were still busy with their rice harvest, and the trees were still gathering sweetness for their luscious fruits. The air was warm and balmy, and the fragrant hay filled the stalls for the cattle just as in the long ago when the Christ-child laid his sacred head among the sweet dry grasses, and became our blessed human Saviour. How glad I am that in ages past he was born in Bethlehem, and we have a Christmas Day to rejoice in—even one in which the loving Father gave to his children the "unspeakable gift.” O that Christ might be formed in the hearts of this people, and a glad Christmas dawn for darkened Siam! I have no doubt the sunshine of that olden time bathed with morning light the very hills that stand about me where I write. For was not Asia the birthplace of our Lord, and did they not see his star in the East?   Who knoweth from whence the wise men journeyed, or whether the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh, were, taken from Persia, from India, or Siam? But this I do know, that once again, in the fulness of time there will be a bringing of gifts to the Saviour, and that then many from this land will cast their bright crowns at his feet! 

excerpt from Mary L. Cort, "MISSIONARY LIFE IN SIAM". New York Evangelist (1830-1902), April 29, 1875, 46, 2.

photo credit: Kritmongkholrat

How Christianity Improved the Status of Women in Thailand (1925)

Christianity is sometimes accused of oppressing women and destroying local cultures so I thought the brief article posted below was a fascinating alternative narrative to that popular charge. It was written in 1925 by a Thai Christian woman who was the first woman to hold a teaching credential in Northern Thailand. She confirms that the introduction of Christianity to her country did indeed change the local culture, but not in the way some might expect. For her, and many other Thai women, Christianity meant greater respect and opportunities for women, not oppression or subjugation.

There were certainly also other factors that influenced changes in the status of women in Thailand besides Christianity per se, but her testimony is a valuable piece of the puzzle in understanding the changes that have happened in the last 100 years or so.

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Suda Javani, “Changing Custom”, Siam Outlook, v.4, no.4, April 1925, 140-141, Payap University Archives

Source: Suda Javani, "Changing Custom", Siam Outlook, v.4, no.4, April 1925, 140-141, Payap University Archives.

Protestant Missionaries to Thailand on Wikipedia

Wikipedia (Articles)

Category: Protestant Missionaries to Southeast Asia

Category: Presbyterian Missionaries in Thailand

Category: Baptist Missionaries in Thailand

 

Wikimedia Commons (Photos)

Photos: Missionaries in Thailand

Photos: Missionary Graves in Thailand

 

Dan Beach_Bradley on Wikipedia
Sarah Blachly, m. 1848 .
Wikipedia article CC-BY-SA-3.0. Image license is CC-PD-Mark.

 

John Taylor_Jones on Wikipedia
Rev.
Wikipedia article CC-BY-SA-3.0. Image has an unknown license.

 

Daniel McGilvary on Wikipedia
Daniel McGilvary (1828–1911) was an American Presbyterian missionary who played an important role in the expansion of Protestantism in Northern Siam.
Wikipedia article CC-BY-SA-3.0. Image license is PD US.

 

Today in Thai Church History (August 23): Gutzlaff and Tomlin Arrive in Bangkok

The history of Chrisitan and missionary work in every country has a beginning, and August 23, 1828 marks the beginning of Protestant work in Thailand (formerly Siam).  On that day, German doctor Karl Gutzlaff and Jacob Tomlin of the London Missionary Society arrived in Bangkok.  They are remembered as the first resident Protestant missionaries to work in the country, although small numbers of Roman Catholics had been in Thailand for many years.  
 
Early Missionaries in Bangkok: The Journals of Tomlin, Gutzlaff, and Abeel, 1828-1832 book coverGutzlaff and Tomlin's ship arrived in Bangkok on a Saturday evening, and they went on shore the following day.  I always find it fascinating to hear someone's first impressions of a place and have included below Jacob Tomlin's account of their first two days in Thailand, drawn from his personal journal, as found in Anthony Farrington, ed. Early Missionaries in Bangkok: The Journals of Tomlin, Gutzlaff, and Abeel, 1828-1832. Bangkok, Thailand: White Lotus Press, 2001, p.8-10.
 
Saturday August 23rd, 1828. In the afternoon run up to Bangkok before a fresh breeze. Opened the city suddenly at 2 or 3 miles distance. In approaching the capital the scenery and dwellings on each side become more varied and beautiful. A temple somewhat like a village church standing on the bank with a few light elegant houses, half shaded by the foliage of trees, has a very rural and lovely appearance. Canals or small rivers branch off from the river at intervals running into the country, each opening a beautiful vista with its grassy banks and bamboos waving over the stream. A lively busy scene appears now on the river — hundreds of boats of all sizes moving in every direction. A long line of junks on the left side just on entering the city, with a range of Chinese smiths' and carpenters' shops, behind a splendid pagoda literally blazing in gold, the Romish Episcopal Chapel standing close by in a rural sequestered situation. Our crew being now hailed by their friends on board another junk ringing a gong, one of our men mounted the poop and returned a merry salute, which was repeated several times, each responding to the other till we got well into the city.